Learning to fly

Edgar Alan Pig

It was 1997 and there I awkwardly sat with nine other equally uncomfortable people. While different in circumstance, we were united in need—in need of a job. I and around 60 other hopefuls had made it to round two of the interview process for a local manufacturing company. Ushered into a large hall, we were soon divided into several groups and seated around a designated table. It was in attentive silence we sat as our task for the day was explained. And that task was to make paper planes—but with a difference. We were not to make the good old-fashioned, two folds and you’re done type plane. No this plane was much more complex and would involve group participation. As such we were to form an assembly line to produce the final product—a state-of-the-art paper plane, coloured, with wings and a couple of other whizz-bang things that have taken leave of my memory. We would need to rotate through the tasks, undertake quality control, manage stocks and maintain efficiencies: all the while working as a team with a common goal.

“And your time starts now.”

I still remember the mix of nervousness and eagerness that had been let loose within me, only to be stalled by self-doubt, which saw me sitting there motionless. If I was to lose the moniker of “unemployed”, I desperately needed that job, and desperately needed to impress the company representative that I indeed would be a valuable team member. I think I could safely say this was a common thought for all the others sitting there in equally motionless unrest. But as the clock began to tick, no one made a move. I looked to my left and saw nervous eyes dart; on my right I heard awkward shuffles of seats. I waited anxiously for someone to make a move, take charge, get the show on the road and lead us all to ‘higher ground’, because when they did I was more than willing to jump in and follow. But no one did. It was a most bizarre scenario that gets eked out each day in a dozen different situations as people recognise the need but lack intestinal fortitude to take the lead. An almost modern-day version of Hans Christian Andersen “The Emperor’s new clothes” if you like. So there we sat around the table knowing we needed to do something yet no one daring to venture beyond the protective shield of their comfort zone. I spied our supervisor look at the clock, then our idle group, then, nonplussed, they made some notes.

I could take it no more. I didn’t want this narrative of my life to end this way, so gulping in courage, I spoke, “Hey guys, we’ve got to do something here if we want to get a job”. My short and impromptu motivational speech got a few nods. “Sooooo, where do we start?? Any takers?” Some heads moved left to right, some nodded in agreement and other people just fidgeted in their seats—but still nobody did anything despite the mounting urgency of the situation. And the time ticked on some more. In those few agonising seconds I saw two options and as reluctant as I was, I knew just what I had to do. Whilst team leader was a most uncomfortable role, I managed to steer our crew to crafting the best darn paper planes in the history of the universe and in doing so I also landed the job.

Fast forward to 2003 and I was to take another deep breath and leap of faith. Despite being incredibly shy and much preferring cows to crowds, I could no longer ignore the urgent need for a change in the way people view the animals our society farms for food and fibre. And in an ironic twist, it would be from my job secured by my paper plane-making exploits I would resign and create Edgar’s Mission. I remember having the same anxious self-doubts that flooded me way back in that small hall in 1997—“What if I fail?”, “What if I make a mistake?”, “What if no one joins in?”, “What if people ridicule me?” and “What if I end up looking silly?”—running through my head. And once again I knew that worse than all these things was doing nothing.

Throughout my life, I have always felt that there was something tugging at me, some urgent need, but I never knew just what it was. Never knew, until 2003, when Edgar Alan Pig began to tug on my heart strings, that I realised it was actually my conscience pulling me to just where I needed to be and that all my life had been carefully navigating me to this point.

The reward for my efforts has been the belief, support and assistance of so many truly amazing people who share the vision of a kinder, more humane and just world for all. Sometimes I truly have to pinch myself as I look back on all Edgar’s Mission has achieved, on all it is today and all it promises for the future. I often think of the words of Martin Luther King, Junior (it’s one of my favourite quotes and I even have it on printed out on my wall):

 “Cowardice asks the question, is it safe?
Expediency ask the question, is it politic?
Vanity asks the question, is it popular?

But, conscience asks the question, is it right? And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.”

And I am reminded that when we do stand up for what we believe in, we find our wings and then we truly soar.

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23 thoughts on “Learning to fly

  1. Beautiful story Pam…I am so grateful you founded Edgar’s Mission. I truly believe one should stand up for what they believe in. I am all for that. Thanks to all of you who saved the animals in your care. I love animals so much & happy I am vegan. It’s the best choice I have made in my entire life. God bless you all & hugs to all God’s creatures

    • Dear Pam,
      Thank you for sharing your story. I hadn’t heard it before. I thought I would reinforce your confidence in what you are doing there at Edgar’s Mission by adding my testimony of becoming a vegan as a direct result of your work there, your brief videos about the various rescued animals, your message of kindness and compassion, and your excellent motto: If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others, why wouldn’t we? ” i love knowing that no animals were harmed to provide the food I eat, and I will never again buy products made by or from any part of an animal.

  2. I think you are truly amazing and what you have done is to be admired. I have often thought how brave it was of you to start Edgars Mission but as you have said it was the right thing to do. I envy your courage and often wish I could do what you have done, You have such a big heart, I.look forward to receiving your newsletters with updates on what is going on around the farm.
    Laurette Mortimer

  3. I so love Edgar’s Mission, especially Pam who has a heart of gold! Every day I look forward to the news on Facebook and every day I get inspired by the love and kindness shown to the animals that live at Edgard Mission! I just wish I lived closer so I could visit and pat the goats and the lambs and all the little darlings!
    I am 81 years old and have become vegan for the animals and the environment!
    Love you all at Edgar’s Mission! XXXXXX

  4. Pam, thank goodness you had the guts to stand up and show true leadership – both then and now. What would we do without you? Bless you!

  5. Pam you are amazing!! And inspiring. ..l love what you do…your compassion and commitment. ..and then the passion that you go about all that you do!! I love reading what you write and how you go about your extra..ordinary days!!

  6. Pam, I am so glad (and I speak for all the Little Fanta’s, Little Squeaks, Lemonades and Pixies of the world) that you went through that paper plan exercise, met Edgar Allen Pig and had the courage to do what you believed was right! Thank you!! You are truly inspirational!!
    Love Love Love Edgar’s Mission!!!!

  7. Pam, we are all so glad (and I speak for all the Little Fanta’s, Little Squeaks, Lemonades and Pixies of the world) that you went through that paper plane exercise, met Edgar Allen Pig and had the courage to do what you believed was right! Thank you!! You are truly inspirational!!
    Love Love Love Edgar’s Mission!!!!

  8. A wonderful story, but one which comes as now surprise. What a courageous, strong, compassionate, intelligent and ethical person you are, Pam.

  9. Good for you… THANK YOU for “standing up for what is right” … the world is a kinder place because of you and the caring that you do … Jayne (Canada)

  10. What a fabulous story! I’m so glad Edgar’s Mission came into being and I feel very proud to be a sponsor of two of the many beautiful animals you care for. Thanks for all that you do.

  11. I love those words by Martin Luther King Jnr. They can apply in so many ways. Not least how you changed the course of your life and so many others by starting Edgars Mission. And most
    important of all saving the lives of so many of our creatures great and small. As usual Pam well done I commend you and all the staff at Edgars Mission of a job well done always . Michele

  12. Thanks Pam for your amazing inspiration and amazing work – you simply make a difference and the world a better place and there can be no greater achievement!

    Love MLK JR words too!

    Sean :)

  13. Such inspiring and deeply moving words. I feel this way right now in my life……….somewhat stuck on how to move forward for the animals, because I let my head get in the way of my heart…..yet my head is full of fear and obstacles for moving forward. I don’t how I will get to the animals but of this I am certain, I will get there one day.
    Thank you for showing us how it can be done..

  14. I and my family and friends love what you do at Edgar’s Mission. Thank heavens there are people like you. A lot of us do what we can to help our animal friends and make their lives better. I wish everyone in the world would. Thank you all for everything that you do!

  15. Comments by Lara and Veronica on Nov. 10, 2015 and other responders on your blogs, echo exactly what I was thinking as I viewed your various entries, Pam, about the animals and the work done at Edgar’s Mission. You have an incredible, unselfish heart, which the rest of us would do well to emulate. And you are such an excellent writer !!! The stories about the animals at Edgar’s Mission warm my heart (and sometimes bring tears) and your superb writing skills make the reading of the stories ten times more enjoyable (maybe I should say a million times).
    You are bound to be covered up with work with all you do for the animals, but I would like to suggest that you explore the possibility of writing a book about Edgar’s Mission, or just compile some of your many postings to publish. (So many more people could become aware of the plight of animals and the cruelties they often suffer at the hands of humans, and the book sales could provide additional income for Edgar’s Mission.) Perhaps allow at least 1 hr per day to pursue ? I realize that this is no comparison, and I have no way of gauging what your busy schedule must be like, but I recently happened upon a suggestion (from a needlework website) about setting aside time each day (I aim for at least l hr) to do my needlework. Even with chores staring me in the face, I now, without guilt, fully enjoy some time spent on my needlework (it feeds my soul, [along with daily reading of devotionals and my Bible]). And the progress I’m making on a quilt which had been “in progress”, or as we needleworkers say, a UFO (unfinished object) for years! Too bad at age 74 I’m just now learning this ! (I do fondly recall at one of the jobs I had in my 50 years of working, where there were several of us gals who enjoyed various needlework. We brought our projects to work and spent most of our lunch hour in the break room enjoying each other’s company and stitching away ! My output in that enjoyable time way outpaced any time since then.)
    Immense blessings on you, Pam, and all the others there at Edgar’s Mission, and, of course, the animals ! Please don’t ever lose heart. So sad Miss Lily Pig and Miss Pompy Do Pig had to be put to sleep. I can relate a little, as to other animals I’ve lost. A favorite cat, “Miss Bootsie”, I held as the vet gave her the injection to release her from all her misery & pain. I had shed buckets of tears on the 10-mile drive to the vet and as I held her as she passed. Bootsie had been my little buddy from 1999 to 2013. Oh, but Miss Bootsie had an attitude! Everything was on HER terms. When anyone rang the doorbell or knocked at the door, she ran & hid. Or, how she knew we had an appt. at the vet I’ll never know, but her favorite trick was to run underneath my full (or double) – size bed and hide on the floor in the middle where I couldn’t reach her. Can’t tell you how many vet appts. had to be rescheduled! I now have another cat, Mr. Woody, a large and extremely friendly Maine Coon cat, who runs to the door to greet and welcome any visitors! I rescued Woody from a shelter – or he would have likely been put down at 1-yr old, as the attendants told me he had about reached the time limit for their limited space. A trip to our vet revealed some health issues for Woody, but w/excellent vet care, really good food and a nutritional supplement which my daughter, a veterinary technician (who lives in another state with her family) told me about & the vet here approved, Woody is doing well at almost 4 yrs. old. (Bootsie had herself, along with previous cats, been a rescue, also.)

    Patricia Gay
    TEXAS, U.S.A.

    • Thanks so much for your kind words Patricia :) Good news! We do have a book! Please see our online shop or Amazon – ‘The Gift of Kindness’ :) Hope you enjoy it :)

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